Upside vs. Known Quantity

7 min read

sam-hinkieOperating as a Dynasty Basketball GM brings a lot of complexity and angles that both make this game exciting, scratching that itch for strategy and long-term planning, but can also leave you scratching your head, confused about the “correct” steps to make. Part of what is unique to dynasty over redraft is that the “correct” move can be very subjective and vary from GM to GM, depending on their personal philosophy and current plan of attack. There’s a variety of factors and considerations to make. The obvious clash of strategies Win Now vs the Process are polar opposites and represent the extremes of both philosophies. Both approaches can be successful, and we at Fantasy Unicorns tend to lean strongly towards the Win-Now side. There is room for an area in between. You can still be successful in this area, but know that things become less black and white and it can add complexity to your player and team analyses.

Part of what is unique to dynasty over redraft is that the “correct” move can be very subjective and vary from GM to GM, depending on their personal philosophy and current plan of attack.

There are so many things to consider. Here are a few off the top of my head:

  • Current Actual Value
  • Current Perceived Value
  • Value of Known Quantity vs Potential
  • Value next season
  • Value 3 seasons from now
  • Player’s role on their team/potential for bigger or smaller role
  • Areas for growth and decline
  • Upside potential
  • Dropoff potential
  • Fit on your fantasy team
  • Your Fantasy roster’s ability to carry upside vs current production
  • Timeline – Are you in a realistic position to win now?
  • The general flow of league – if everyone is going young, older vets will be cheaper – employ the Blue Water strategy

When comparing players for your team, you will need to weigh their values in regards to upside vs. known quantity. The upside is mysterious, exciting, and well unproven. The known quantity is just that, you know more or less what the production will be, and to some GMs, it can be boring. Finding a solid balance can help you both win now, but also field an exciting team, and plan for future seasons with upside players. It isn’t always necessarily Old vs.Young or Vet vs. Rookie, though it can work out that way.

Evan Fournier vs. Jaylen Brown

Evan Fournier


Jaylen Brown




Current Rank: 183



Current Rank: 278


Currently brutal FG% is killing Fournier’s value. Along with that, his points, steals, and 3s are all down. On the plus side, his assists are up. He played well last season and ranked 62 in per game stats. As the main (and only) backcourt scoring option, he should eventually work his way towards those numbers from last year. Last season he shot 45.9% from the field, and with an increase in shots made, the points obviously follow.


An even worse FG% is anchoring Brown to completely unusable in standard leagues unless you are punting both percentages (which would still only get you to a 177 rank). Last season he managed a 160 rank, which is attainable this season, but also not standard league relevant. Riding off more on name value earned in the playoffs last season, as well as being a good real-life NBA player, Brown is seemingly overrated in fantasy.


Younger than one might expect, Fournier is in the middle of his prime as an NBA player. He’s a crafty scorer that does a little bit of everything offensively, and while his ceiling is nothing too exciting, he should maintain a floor of top 100 for many seasons to come.


Still just 22 years old, Brown has shown that he can compete at the playoff level and start in the NBA. The problem is that so far his fantasy game has failed to translate well. He will definitely improve in the future, but how much? A new team could potentially improve his numbers.

My Preference: Evan “Man Bun” Fournier

This will be a time where I favor the older, known quantity. At this point and for the next few seasons, smart money would be on Fournier to provide more value to fantasy teams, due to his more fantasy-friendly game and higher usage (25.3 vs. 19.6). I don’t see Brown ever making a monumental leap in fantasy value, and his eventual ceiling is probably around where Fournier is now. Where Brown might carry more value, besides longevity, is in name value and trades. There seems to be an inverse situation with Fournier’s value (medium) compared to his perceived trade value in dynasty (low). Contrast that to Brown’s current value (low) compared to his perceived trade value (medium), and you should look to see what you can get for Brown while holding Fournier is probably the right move.

fournier graph

DeAndre Jordan vs. Jarrett Allen


DeAndre Jordan

Center, DAL

Jarrett Allen

Center, BKN



Current Rank: 43



Current Rank: 83


The points, rebounds, blocks, and FG% were expected. But what is going on with that FT%? Did Jordan have some sort of epiphany in Dallas? It certainly seems like it. As each game goes on, it seems less like a fluke and more like something that has been fixed, which at age 30, is very rare for an NBA player. With this improved FT shooting, Jordan suddenly becomes a player you can add to just about any team.



One of the new modern centers in the NBA, Allen surprised everyone when he hit 2 3’s in the season opener. He’s hit zero since, but now we know the potential is there. An up and coming board and block machine that can step out and hit the 3 has become very sought-after in fantasy. His current rank is anchored by extremely poor FT shooting. For reference, he shot a solid 77.6 from the line last season, and I expect him to return to that as the season progresses.


As a high-flying big that gobbles up rebounds and catches lobs at the rim, DeAndre’s game does rely a lot on athleticism. Also worth noting is that Jordan has no outside shot to speak of. Once a player passes 30, we all await the athletic dropoff for these types of players. Still, he should remain very helpful in boards and FG% for years to come. The blocks haven’t been elite since 2015 and I don’t see that returning. If that FT% remains, he will probably remain a top center for at least a few more seasons.


Currently unable to legally buy a beer, Allen has upside and youth in spades. The blocks and boards will be solid and continue to improve as he matures (especially the boards). It’s very promising to see him not only attempt 3’s but hit them. I could see him eventually progressing to making around 1 a game. He seems like a hard worker and a player willing to really work on his game. He’s looking very solid right now and like a future elite NBA center with a long career ahead.

My Preference: Jarrett “Cheese” Allen

This was a tough one since Jordan is elite right now and Allen has a ton of upside. The 10 year age gap did play into this. I would give Allen a slight edge. His FT shooting should come back and he has a high likelihood of becoming a DeAndre Jordan with fewer boards, better career FT%, and ability to hit 3s. They may both finish the season just inside the top 50. Once Allen gets going, I predict a big leap next season, you’re looking at 10 years of elite play vs 3 years from Jordan. At his floor, Allen is still 70% of Jordan, but with a ton more trade potential.

I personally have a tendency towards win-now players. That’s not to say that there isn’t internal conflict as I try to choose between these types of players. My head says win now, but my heart loves upside and potential. I understand the plight of the process owner, but my brain generally won’t allow me to delve too deep into those waters. I do like to maintain a mix of win now, with a splash of potential. There’s something to be said about having a promising pipeline of future stars that you can hopefully lean on as the new foundations of your team after the current stars age. Ideally, you win now, set yourself up with bets on intelligently-chosen young players, and continue to win in the future as well. The other option is to just deliver ride after ride like Starks manages to do. Unfortunately, I don’t have those negotiating skills.

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